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Mapping State Proficiency Standards Onto NAEP Scales: Results From the 2019 NAEP Reading and Mathematics Assessments

June 1, 2021

Author: Ji, C.S., Rahman, T., and Yee, D.S. (2021).

Download PDFs of the complete report and the technical notes for viewing and printing.

Executive Summary


The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has periodically published reports using results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to compare the proficiency standards that states set for their students. Since standards vary across states, the results of the various state assessments cannot be used to directly compare students’ progress. However, by placing a state standard onto the NAEP scale, a common metric for all states, a NAEP equivalent score is produced, which can be compared across states. The last mapping study report released by NCES (NCES 2019-040) compared state proficiency standards for school year 2016–17.

The latest report highlights the results of mapping state proficiency standards onto the NAEP scales using state assessment results from the 2018–19 school year and the 2019 NAEP assessments for public schools. The report focuses on the reading and mathematics standards that states set for grades 4 and 8. For each state, the report presents the NAEP equivalent scores (between 0 and 500), which are shown in relation to the NAEP achievement levels: NAEP Basic and NAEP Proficient.

As is typical in NAEP reporting, the 2019 results are compared with the 2009 results to show longer-term trends and the 2017 results to show more immediate changes.

The analyses conducted for this study address the following questions:

  • What are the 2019 NAEP equivalent scores for the states?
  • How do the 2019 NAEP equivalent scores compare with those from 2009 and 2017?

Overall, in 2019, most state standards for both grades and both subjects mapped at the NAEP Basic achievement level. In addition, for states with all 3 years of data (i.e., 2019, 2017, and 2009), the differences between the highest and lowest NAEP equivalent scores of the state standards were larger in 2019 than in 2017 in grade 4 mathematics and grade 8 reading and smaller in 2019 than in 2017 in grade 8 mathematics. In all grades and subjects, the differences were smaller in 2019 than in 2009. It should be noted that the mapping study did not include all states for various reasons. A brief explanation for exclusion is provided in the report.


Key Findings from the 2019 NAEP State Mapping Analysis


The 2019 report—the eighth in the series—analyzed the standards set for public school students for the 2018–2019 school year in reading and mathematics at grades 4 and 8. This report also analyzed the standards of proficient performance for the two testing programs: The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

  • For grade 4 in both reading and mathematics, state standards for proficiency mapped at a higher NAEP achievement level in 2019 than in 2009. In addition, the difference between the highest and lowest standards for reading did not change between 2017 and 2019, and the difference for mathematics in 2019 was larger than in 2017 but smaller than in 2009.
  • For grade 8 in both reading and mathematics, state standards for proficiency mapped at a higher NAEP achievement level in 2019 than in 2009. In addition, in 2019, the difference between the highest and lowest standards for reading was larger than in 2017 but smaller than in 2009, and the difference for mathematics has become smaller over time.

See below for the number of states that mapped at the NAEP achievement levels in 2019 in reading and mathematics at grades 4 and 8.

Number of states that mapped at the NAEP achievement levels, by grade and subject: 2019
NAEP achievement level
Grade 4
Grade 8
ReadingMathematicsReadingMathematics
Total 49 51 46 35
NAEP Proficient4
13
4
11
NAEP Basic44
37
41
24
Below NAEP Basic1
11
0

Suggested Citation
Ji, C.S., Rahman, T., and Yee, D.S. (2021). Mapping State Proficiency Standards Onto the NAEP Scales: Results From the 2019 NAEP Reading and Mathematics Assessments (NCES 2021-036). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2021036.




Last updated 26 May 2021 (DS)